Published: Tue, March 14, 2017
Medical | By Dorothy Lyons

This fruit made the 'Dirty Dozen' list for the first time

This fruit made the 'Dirty Dozen' list for the first time

Despite washing and even peeling some of the more than 36,000 samples, there was still a total of 178 pesticides found among the produce analyzed by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The analysis also found that almost 70 percent of the 48 different conventional produce samples tested by the USDA were contaminated with residues of one or more pesticides.

This year, strawberries remained at the top of the list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides, while sweet corn and avocados were ranked as having the lowest concentration. This provides a good guide for people who want to consume fewer pesticides but can't afford organic produce. For the healthiest practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you wash your fruits and vegetables (unless they're labeled "prewashed"), keep them cold, and separate them from items like raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

According to the World Health Organization, pesticides can be potentially toxic to humans and may have negative effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems, cause cancer and lead to other problems. In addition to strawberries and spinach, this year's list includes nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes. In a change from a year ago, potatoes and pears made the "Dirty Dozen".

Spinach made one of the more notable jumps on this year's list, moving from No. 8 to No. 2.

The AFF said the list's publication came in spite of fruit and vegetable consumption rates remaining low and studies showing consumers were less likely to purchase produce due to concerns over pesticide residues.

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Spinach samples had, on average, twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

The EWG's Clean Fifteen list, which ranks the safest non-organic foods to eat by its standards, contains sweet corn, which took the top spot, followed by avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions and frozen sweet peas. The fruits that have the highest levels of contamination are strawberries.

Only 1% of samples showed any detectable pesticides in avocados and sweet corn, which were deemed the cleanest produce.

Whether you are buying organic or conventional produce, it's important to handle your food safely.

The annual list is meant to convince shoppers to buy organic when it comes to certain types of produce. "If you can't buy organic, the Shopper's Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides".

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